By on December 28, 2010

“I have something to tell you, but you cannot, I repeat, must not do anything about it.”

“Is it something I want to hear?”

“Yes, it is. But you have to swear.”

“Okay. I swear. Now tell me.”

“Maro is getting a divorce.” Oh. Maro. I remember you, swinging your legs, your perfect profile and staggeringly voluptuous figure backlit by the sun, and I remember you seated next to me, so long ago, in that little gold Nissan truck. Do you remember me?

It was a decade ago. I’d walked away from a business I founded in 1999, leaving my 2000 Saab 9-3 company car with the company. Although it was my company car, I’d had to sign on the lease paperwork when we got it, and that would eventually come back to haunt me in a rather terrifying fashion… but that’s a story for another time. I owned two other cars; a Plymouth Voyager minivan, which I gave to the profoundly Asperger’s-esque partner in my new business, and a 1990 Plymouth Colt, which I gave to the same guy when he lost the keys to the Voyager shortly after forgetting where he’d parked said Voyager anyway. Somehow I’d gone from three cars and a motorcycle to just a motorcycle. I needed a vehicle. Something absolutely reliable and fiscally reasonable.

It also needed to carry some bicycles, because I was making a final run at BMX racing and freestyle. I’d discovered just the right cocktail of medication, meditation, and manipulation to let me ride at a skatepark for up to an hour before my knees fell apart and I ended up huddled in a corner dry-heaving from pain. I ran all these variables through my internal abacus and came up with the idea of a Nissan Frontier XE King Cab.

Finding just the right truck took some time. I wanted the plain black plastic bumpers and I didn’t want automatic transmission or any “popular packages”. I wanted a basic, five-speed, roll-up window truck with a bedliner. My final out-the-door price was about $14,100 from a sticker price in the high fifteens. Seemed like a decent deal.

Almost immediately, I was annoyed by the little Nissan. I hadn’t rolled-up my own windows in years and it turned out that I hated doing it. The truck was noisy and gutless. The seats were back-breakers on long trips to out-of-state BMX tracks. Worst of all, the stereo was abysmal, so I hired a friend of a friend to fix that situation. When the fellow arrived, he turned out to be a friendly, handsome twenty-four-year old fellow with… an absolute stunner of a wife.

Over the next few weeks, I put a few thousand dollars into the stereo and I inveigled my way into the lives of our new friends. They were broke but Mrs. Stereo Installer, whom we shall call Maro, had a taste for the finer things in life. Meanwhile, I had plenty of disposable income thanks to my economical truck purchase. It was a match made in Hell as we dined out night after night, dressed to the nines, first as a pair of couples and then, finally, as just her and me. Our spouses were annoyed by the whirlwind pace of our quasi-courtship. There was only room for two people in this relationship.

There was also really only room for two people in my little truck, particularly after it had a brace of “JL Audio” amplifiers installed. It sounded fantastic and I could almost overlook the idea that I was driving around a crummy little truck when the tunes were cranked. The 2001 Frontier was really just a mild facelift of the original post-Hardbody truck, and although I respected it for being the last genuine small import pickup, I was starting to think that I’d really enjoy something with a little more room for people and a little less rolling-of-the-windows.

A year and about twenty-six thousand miles into my life with the Frontier, I decided to shuck it off in favor of a little Land Rover Freelander. With a four-bike hitch rack, I could take my friends to the races. I’d stop rolling up my windows. I’d have more mobility in the weather; one of the annoying things about being a Midwestern BMX rider is that pretty much every day starts with a car trip somewhere, whether to a skatepark or an indoor track. The Rover dealer offered me the Freelander at invoice minus rebate, but only wanted to give me $6800 for the Nissan. What the hell. I handed it over. Little did I know that, had I held on the truck, I could probably sell it for close to that now. Good-condition Frontiers are worth good money.

Naturally, the new Rover required a much more comprehensive stereo installation… and the Discovery I bought just ten months after that required an even more comprehensive job. Night after night, my young friend sweated in the footwells of crookedly assembled British trucks while Maro and I shopped, dined, listened to music. We held her birthday party at my house. I wrote her resume. She called me and I walked outside to take the call.

One afternoon we were at the Coach store, I was making some ridiculous joke along the lines of, “If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it,” and the saleslady said to us, “You two are the perfect couple. I’ve never seen two young people so in love, and so wonderful together.”

“He isn’t my husband,” Maro replied, eyes downcast.

“Maybe he should be.” She looked at me. And I, dear reader, I laughed. Under no circumstances would I ever divorce. I laughed. With one chance to say something to a woman with whom I rather thought I might be in love, I laughed. Out of conceit, arrogance, nervousness, fear. We walked out silently. Later on that week, the phone rang. It was my installer. In a voice that was close to tears, he informed me that although he valued my business, he could no longer help me with my cars. I pulled the stereo equipment from my last Rover. It’s all still in my basement, packed up where I cannot reach it or think about it too much.

I should have kept the truck. I could use it now. A good small truck is always welcome. And now I hear that Maro is single again, but what would I say if I saw her again? Only the truth; that we were opaque to each other then, and would always be so if we fell together again.

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20 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2001 Nissan Frontier And The Two Who Got Away...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Wow, haunting.  But for the grace of God, go I.  I must have been born a lucky guy.

  • avatar

    I’m now understanding why I’ve always enjoyed your tales so much. While I’m guessing you’re about 18-20 years younger than me (I’m 60) your manner of living is an absolute parallel to the way I lived, from my late teens through the first marriage, the seven year live-in girlfriend, three three simultaneous relationships that followed, up to the start of my second marriage, 10 years ago (the survivor of the three).

    At which point I settled down to a nice, proper, respectable married life. Duty, responsibility, and all those things that I was ‘supposed’ to embrace somewhere by the start of my first marriage. I love the woman to whom I’m married, dearly. I hate the way my life has turned, however.

    Don’t give up what you’re doing. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

  • avatar

    Wow. Every time you tell one of these stories, I lose a little bit more of the respect I had for you, Jack.
    But at least you have the stones to be honest. I guess that’s something.
    A high-value guy like you should never have had to operate out of “Scarcity Mentality”.
    -In truth, there are +/-100k perfect matches out there for each person on earth.
    Including several million, or tens of millions of, Maros out there.
    Here are a few links. They are the least crappy ones I could find quickly, though Neil Strauss and a few others should have the more sophisticated take on it:

  • avatar


    For a guy who obviously loves cars, you sure have made some rather poor automotive choices. A discovery? Not only do they hurt the eyes, they are unreliable, as I’m sure you found out.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I put over 100,000 miles on Rovers and never had a serious issue. I *did* have many safe tows, many great trips to remote destinations in poor weather, many fellow motorists pulled out of ditches, and a few really fun off-road trips.

  • avatar

    I don’t get it, what do you mean by “we were opaque to each other”?  Are you single now, too?  If not, what do you have to lose?  Are you trying to convince the reader or yourself that you “would always be” opaque to each other (whatever that means)?  And what if you found your old Frontier was for sale again?  Would you go take a look at her? 

    • 0 avatar

      I think he means that we were invisible to each other in a romantic way. That they had become such close friends that they just could not see a relationship develop. I of course do not speak for Jack, and only commented in case he doesn’t catch your post. I am sure that I will be properly chastised if I am wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      No chastising around here, only gentle correction.  Although your interpretation sounds pretty good to me.  Jack has an extensive vocabulary, which I quite enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      BMWfan is right… I also meant that neither of us never truly understood what the other person wanted. When relationship fail, I think the fault almost always lies with differences between expectation and delivery.

  • avatar

    “Maybe he should be.” She looked at me. And I, dear reader, I laughed. Under no circumstances would I ever divorce. I laughed. With one chance to say something to a woman with whom I rather thought I might be in love, I laughed. Out of conceit, arrogance, nervousness, fear.

    I’m paraphrasing, but David Bromberg does a song, Testify (about my love) where, in concert, he breaks into a story and about taking advantage of a former girlfriend, living the life of a musician, running around with other women while she was at home. One morning as he staggered in, she confronts him with a shirt of  his, covered in lipstick, not her’s.

    “David,” she said, “You can’t do me like this”.

    And I replied, “You don’t own me.”

    (turning to the audience he says) “How many of you have ever said that, “You don’t own me”? Boy, that sure is some dumb sh*t, ain’t it?”

    And with that she didn’t say but one word, “Right.”

    And then I found out two things. One was that she could get men a whole lot easier than I could get women. I’d stay out late, she’d stay out later. She’d work the same clubs where I performed. I knew something was up when she came home in the morning wearing different clothes than she’d left with the night before.

    And the second thing I found out was that she didn’t need my sorry ass around there anymore. It was my belongings in paper bags, out the door, nowhere nohow, see you later sucka.

    Great song, great performance.
    I know that I sure as sh*t have said some dumb sh*t that I now wish I hadn’t.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The moon was yellow, and the lane was bright
    As she turned to me, in the autumn night.
    And every gesture and every glance
    Gave me a hint that she craved romance.
    I stammered, I stuttered, and time went by
    The moon was yellow, and so was I.

  • avatar

    That, sir, was beautiful. The ‘opaque’ thing: perhaps you mean you saw what you wanted to see, but your vision was clouded, by desire? On both your parts.
    This isn’t about cars, but it never really is, is it? I’ll be looking for your work from now on.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound


    Didn’t write it, but I will take credit for remembering it.

  • avatar

    For goodness sake, update me on the human elements here. What about Maro? How did you find she was single again?  Are you single? What a story!! And what about the Freelander? That thing must’ve gone bad on you many times. You MUST do a sequel to this story. Please!!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Been there, done that, Jack.  With both the crush and the Nissan.  Loved my SE-V6 King Cab, and only sold it at 13 years odl and 240k for $3000 when I needed 4 doors for baby seats.

    Great story.

  • avatar

    My god.  I think that was literature.
    How far we’ve come from the days when Jack was tweaking us with cannonball-ing among civilians.

  • avatar

    “Only the truth; that we were opaque to each other then, and would always be so if we fell together again.”

    Jack, for about six years now I’ve tried in my head to come to terms with my own “Maro.” Your line above says it better than I’ve been able to put together. Hopefully this won’t be the final chapter in your tale.

  • avatar

    I agree with willman, that there are numerous good matches for us out there; it would be pretty hopeless to think that we have to wander over the earth looking for that “perfect one”.  I think the same is true of cars.
    Jack, I like your style.  Like you, I’ve owned a Voyager.  Although being married 23+ years to the same girl has been a great thing, I’ve never owned a Nissan, but may some day.  Switching cars is much easier.

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